What Is a Weighted Basketball—and What Are the Benefits of Using One?

Sport & Activity

Two basketball coaches explain the value of adding some resistance to your passes.

Last updated: 3 March 2023
5 min read
What Is a Weighted Basketball — And What Are the Benefits of Using One?

Whether you're a seasoned basketball player or a novice who enjoys playing pick-up games, there's one essential tool that can help improve your skills: a weighted basketball.

As its name suggests, a weighted basketball, also often referred to as a heavy trainer, is a slightly heavier basketball that provides progressive load. Cori Close, UCLA women's head basketball coach, noted that weighted basketballs are the same size as normal basketballs and have a similar look and feel, though some balls are made out of different kinds of leather or rubber.

However, the weight difference between a normal basketball and weighted basketball often isn't significant.

Weighted basketballs typically range from 1.25 kg—twice the weight of a conventional basketball—to 1.8 kg. So the weight difference isn't drastic, but it will provide some added benefits.

Below, Close and Beth Burns, USC's women's associate head basketball coach share the benefits of using weighted basketballs.

(Related: 5 Benefits of Playing Basketball, According to Experts)

The Benefits of Weighted Basketball Training

  1. 1.Weighted Basketballs Create Resistance

    What Is a Weighted Basketball — And What Are the Benefits of Using One?

    One of the top benefits of using weighted basketballs? They create resistance and difficulty during training thanks to progressive overload, which helps build strength.

    "You want to make things harder in training than they are in a game", Close said. "You want to create strength, a gain, opportunity, and I think it provides that".

    When used consistently, she added, a player can see great gains, meaning it can help them improve their skills especially when it comes to passing the ball to a teammate.

  2. 2.They Can Help Improve Passing Skills

    What Is a Weighted Basketball — And What Are the Benefits of Using One?

    Weighted basketballs can be incorporated into training in a range of ways, making them a go-to for certain drills. In particular, Close said they're great for passing exercises, particularly.

    Great passing skills, she added, is a big need in the game, and weighted basketballs help improve these skills by upping the difficulty in training (due to the added weight), which in turn makes it easier to pass during a game.

    Specifically, Burns added that using weighted basketballs helps improve passing speed, passing strength and passing accuracy.

    "It's harder to do a three-man weave—where you're touching the sideline, going up and down the floor and throwing a chest pass—when the ball is a little bit heavier", she said, adding that's because of progressive resistance. "Then, you go back to a normal ball, and it's just different. You could snap it better."

  3. 3.They're Useful for Fine-Tuning Ball Handling Skills

    What Is a Weighted Basketball — And What Are the Benefits of Using One?

    Weighted basketball training is also great for improving ball handling skills, such as dribbling and ball control when changing directions.

    "A long time ago, I figured out that if you have two different balls—one might be rubber, one might be leather, one might be perfect with air, one might not be—it makes you a better ball handler to change your surfaces [and] to change the bounce", Burns said. "And I think by putting [players] in those kinds of situations, you get better when you get down to the real ball".

    (Related: The Best Nike Basketball Shoes for Guards)

  4. 4.They're Accessible for All Levels

    What Is a Weighted Basketball — And What Are the Benefits of Using One?

    Another benefit of weighted basketballs is that they're great for basketball players of all levels.

    "I don't care if you're an NBA star or you're a beginner starting out; you just want to improve your craft, and weighted balls can help do that", Close said. "I don't think it's the only way to get better, but I don't think the use of that tool has anything to do with age [or experience]".

    Burns concurred with this advice. "I think it's beneficial to everybody", she said. However, she warned that, for beginners, it's best to learn the fundamentals skills of the game first before adding any progressive load.

When to Use Weighted Basketballs During Training

Weighted basketballs are best used for practising passing and ball handling. Burns doesn't recommend them for shooting training because shooting is challenging enough and the added weight isn't necessary.

As for when to incorporate weighted basketballs into training, Burns and Close like using them at the beginning of a training session when focusing on skill development. But, timing isn't as important as consistency, both coaches said. They explained that as long as you're using a weighted basketball regularly (whether that's every training session or more so during off-season), you'll probably reap the benefits.

Words by Jessica Estrada

Originally published: 3 March 2023

Related Stories

Every Position in Basketball, Explained

Sport & activity

Every position in basketball, explained

The benefits of cardio vs. strength training

Sport & activity

The benefits of cardio vs. strength training

What Is overtraining syndrome—and how to avoid It

Sport & activity

What is overtraining syndrome—and how can you avoid it?

5 ice bath recovery benefits you need to know about

Sport & activity

5 ice bath recovery benefits you need to know about

Every position in ice hockey, explained

Sport & activity

Every position in ice hockey, explained